Singles wins for Khim Iglupas and Katharine Lehnert did the job for Philippines in its Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Asia/Oceania Zone Group II promotion play-off with Singapore in Hua Hin on Saturday.
The result sees Philippines return to Zone Group I for the first time since it lost a relegation play-off to Korea, Republic in 2006.
The team of Iglupas and Lehnert had been on top form all week, neither having lost a set in singles on their way to four wins from four ties in the pool stages.
By contrast, Singapore’s route to the play-offs was a hard-fought affair, with impressive wins over Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, with a particularly notable victory over Malaysia that saw Charmaine Shi Yi Seah and Stefanie Tan recover from a set down in the decisive doubles rubber to earn their play-off place.
It was the No. 2 singles players, Iglupas and Seah, who took to court first, and Philippines easier passage seemed significant as Iglupas wrapped up the opening set in just 24 minutes.
The second was a tighter affair, but Seah could not stop Iglupas putting her nation 1-0 up, a 62 64 scoreline completing a perfect week for the Philippines’ No. 2.
And so it was up to Tan to keep Singapore alive in the tie, and she started strongly against Lehnert, breaking four times to win the first set.
But Lehnert – one of the highest ranked players at the event – showed her mettle, improving her serve and fighting back to take the second set. A marathon third set lasting well over an hour ensued, but ultimately it was Lehnert who had the edge, winning 36 63 64 in two hours and 32 minutes.
Thoughts for Iglupas, Lehnert and captain Chris Cuarto will now turn to Zone Group I in 2017. As for Singapore, reaching the play-off represents its best result in recent years, and with a young team at its disposal, there will undoutedbly be further chances for promotion in future.
In the day’s other ranking play-offs, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Hong Kong, China all finished the week with wins.